HOPE unit helps homeless recover ID's

Team of officers, volunteers put people in touch with services to get IDs

SAN ANTONIO – John Junior Franks may be homeless, but he's about to get a fresh start.

Franks is going to get an ID, thanks to the Homeless Outreach Positive Encounters, or HOPE, unit at the San Antonio Police Department.

SAPD patrolman Joe Farris is a member of the HOPE unit who works to get homeless people off the streets.

Farris said it's hard for officers to find services for the homeless because they don't have an ID.

"A lot of these people, they want to get jobs. You can't get a job, you can't get a bank account, you can't get into treatment a lot of times," Farris said. "Many of the shelters require that you have an ID, so some of the homeless who want help, a place to stay, they can’t even get into shelters."

The problem prompted SAPD to start the ID Recovery Program two years ago.

On Wednesdays, police officers and people involved in ministries and charities hit the streets to help people to start the ID recovery process.

They also drive groups of homeless people to Texas Department of Public Safety driver license facilities to get an ID.

"I was already working, so, unfortunately, I’ve got everything stolen. I lost my job and everything, but now I got my ID back," said Willie Garcia, a homeless man.

The program also helps get IDs for other types of victims.

"We also help people from natural disasters. Many people have lost all their documents in the storms or they had to flee without their documents," Farris said. "So, we help those people, people who have had house fires, all their documents are burned up." 

About the Authors:

Stephanie Serna is a weekday anchor on Good Morning San Antonio and GMSA at 9 a.m. She joined the KSAT 12 News team in November 2009 as a general assignments reporter.

David Ibañez has been managing editor of KSAT.com since the website's launch in October 2000.